Taman Sri Nibong RA Log

September 5, 2011

(2) The People of Malaysia

Filed under: from the editor — mollyosc @ 12:07 pm

Having had an interesting past and being a part of the international spice route many hundreds of years ago, Malaysia has turned into a mosaic of cultures. Everything from its people to its architecture reflects a colourful heritage and an amalgamated culture. To understand Malaysian culture, you must first get to know its people.

A LAND OF INTRIGUING DIVERSITY

The Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other ethnic groups have lived together in Malaysia for generations. All these cultures have influenced each other, creating a truly Malaysian culture. The three largest ethnic and most familiar groups in Malaysia are the Malays, Chinese and Indians. In Sabah and Sarawak, there are a myriad of indigenous ethnic groups with their own unique culture and heritage. However, not many people are aware of these minority groups, each vastly different from the others.

MALAYS

Today, the Malays, Malaysia’s largest ethnic group, make up more than 50% of the population. In Malaysia, the term Malay refers to a person who practices Islam and Malay traditions, speaks the Malay language and whose ancestors are Malays. Their conversion to Islam from Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism began in the 1400s, largely influenced by the decision of the royal court of Melaka. The Malays are known for their gentle mannerisms and rich arts heritage.

CHINESE

The second largest ethnic group, the Malaysian Chinese form about 25% of the population. Mostly descendants of Chinese immigrants during the 19th century, the Chinese are known for their diligence and keen business sense. The three sub-groups who speak a different dialect of the Chinese language are the Hokkien who live predominantly on the northern island of Penang; the Cantonese who live predominantly in the capital city Kuala Lumpur; and the Mandarin-speaking group who live predominantly in the southern state of Johor.

INDIANS

The smallest of three main ethnic groups, the Malaysian Indians form about 10% of the population. Most are descendants of Tamil-speaking South Indian immigrants who came to the country during the British colonial rule. Lured by the prospect of breaking out of the Indian caste system, they came to Malaysia to build a better life. Predominantly Hindus, they brought with them their colourful culture such as ornate temples, spicy cuisine and exquisite sarees.

MAJOR INDIGENOUS ETHNIC GROUPS

ORANG ASLI

Orang Asli is a general term used for any indigenous groups that are found in Peninsular Malaysia. They are divided into three main tribal groups: Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay. The Negrito usually live in the north, the Senoi in the middle and the Proto-Malay in the south. Each group or sub-group has its own language and culture. Some are fishermen, some farmers and some are semi-nomadic.

SABAH

With around 32 indigenous groups in Sabah, one can expect to see tribal dresses of various styles. Most of these have retained much of their original design and color.

Many of these traditional costumes are of black material, and one of the reasons for using such a sombre color is that in the past, the people could rely on a few types of vegetables and plants from which to extract dye to color the cloth. If they needed to add color to the black, beads of red, orange, white and green were sewn on.

Traditional costumes also included antique bead necklaces and belts, antique hand-engraved silver jewellery, and belts of old silver dollar coins. Most of these accessories have been handed down from generation to generation. All are very valuable and priceless.

KADAZANDUSUN

This is the largest ethnic category in Sabah and is predominantly wet rice and hill rice cultivators.  Their language belongs to the Dusunic family and shares a common animistic belief system with  various customs  and  practices. Their ancient beliefs on the verity that everything has life – the rocks,  trees, and rivers are  all  living  things. They have souls and spirits that must be appeased from time to  time through specific  rituals.  In these  modern times, some of the rituals are less performed accept  during certain festivities.

Customs & Beliefs

Pesta Kaamatan or Harvest Festival is a unique celebration of Kadazandusun society. It’s a celebration to honour the Rice Spirit – Bambaazon or Bambarayon and giving thanks for yet another bountiful year. The festival begins on the first of May at many district levels. The rites and customs of the Pesta Kaamatan is a tribal practice of Kadazandusun and also Murut peoples. The Bobohizan or Bobolian who are the High Priests or Priestesses (depending on the district/area undertaking the preservation) will conduct the ritual. In different districts, the priests or priestesses may be addressed to differently, for instance in Tambunan district they are known as Bobolian, in Tuaran as Tantagas and in Penampang as Bobohizan.

It is believed that rice in whatever form embodies Bambaazon that must be protected from harm. The homecoming of Babaazon is an integral part of the Harvest Festival. Ancient folklore tells of the ultimate deed of Kinoingan or Minamagun – The Almighty God or Creator, who sacrificed his only beloved daughter, Huminodun so that his people would have food. Various parts of her body were planted from which plants grew. During the Magavau ceremony, the Bobohizan will select some stalks of rice that are left undistributed until the harvest is over. In some districts, the chosen stalks are cut before the field is harvested and are then brought into the owner’s house. The task of Bobohizan is to search and salvage the lost Bambaazon who are hurt or separated from the main mystical body. In the old days, this ceremony was often performed in freshly harvested fields during the first full moon after the harvest to invoke the rice spirit.

The language used by Bobohizan is archaic whose meanings have been buried in time and known only to the few remaining Bobohizan these days. The vital aspect of Magavau is the paraphernalia used to summon Bambaazon. The sacrament of Magavau may vary according to district practices but the ceremony always ends with food offerings to Bambaazon and merry making for the village folks.

The highlight of Pesta Kaamatan is the selection of the pageant queen or “Unduk Ngadau” which can be literally translated as “Zenith of the Sun”. It conceptually derives from the sacrifice of Huminodun. The maiden who has the honour of being selected should bear semblance to Huminodun and will represent all that is virtuous in the revered Huminodun.

BAJAU

The Kota Belud Bajau Horseman are the famous Cowboys of the East. During special occasions, the  Bajau Horseman wears a black, sometimes white, long-sleeved shirt called badu sampit . Smart, gold buttons betawi run down the front opening and the shirt is also decorated with silver flowers called intiras. The trousers are more tight-fitting than the bajau bridegroom’s seluar sama . The  horseman’s seluar sampit is black, and both the shirt and trousers have gold lace trimmings sewn on. He also  wears a headpiece podong similar to the Bajau bridegroom’s.

The Bajau horseman wears a silver-hilted dagger karis at his side. The sheath is made of wood and silver. He  also carries a spear bujak and a shipping crop pasut . Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Bajau horseman is his horse, or rather pony. It has its own costume and is more gaily dressed than the rider. The outfit kain kuda almost completely covers the pony except for holes for the eyes and nose. This cloth is tied around the pony’s legs to keep it in place. The saddle sila-sila is not like the cowboy saddles of the West but rather a smaller piece of buffalo hide so shaped to fit the pony’s back. A thick piece of cloth lapik is placed under the sila-sila . Antique brass bells seriau , colourful reins tingalu and bridle kakang all make for a very festive pony costume. In all their finery, both ride and pony become quite an attraction.

RUNGUS

The Rungus living in the Kudat district are known to have maintained their ancient traditions to this  day. Even the traditional ladies costume has not many changes made to it. Some of the women still  wear  costumes made from cloth processed form hand-grown and hand-spun cotton.

The design of the Rungus costume is simple. A black cloth with little hand-stitched patterns worn  from the chest to the waist becomes the blouse ( banat tondu ) and the skirt is a knee-length sarong  (tapi rinugading) of the same material. Another length of black cloth, about 28-30 cm wide is  slipped over the head and it rests on the shoulders draped over the arms like sleeves.

What makes this outfit very interesting is the belts and necklaces that go with it. Little brass rings and antique beads looped through thin strands of stripped bark ( togung ) becomes a wide and colourful hipband called orot. To wear this, the orot is slowly and carefully coiled around the hip. Then a last string of beads ( lobokon ) is hung loosely from the coil. The orot is hand made by the Rungus men as the technique is known only to them.

The Rungus are also well-known for their beadwork and the costume shows off some of their finest. Two shoulders bands (pinakol), about 6 to 8 cms wide are worn diagonally over each shoulder and cross over in front. The bead-work often tell a story and this one in particular tells  of a man going spear-hunting for a riverine creature. Usually the pattern must follow ancient designs when worn with this costume.

Long antique bed necklace ( sandang ) are also worn diagonally over the shoulders. These necklaces often include ivory-white discs, obtained from the shell of the kima ( tridachna gigas ) as well as animal bones.

Several necklaces of reddish-brown glass beads and the chocker-like suldau with the white kima as the centre-piece further adorn this costume. The large burambun and the smaller giring are antique brass bells that sound with the slightest movement.

The Rungus lady’s hair is combed into a bun and a multi-coloured floral head-piece ( titimbok ) is worn. A thin band of beads strung together ( sisingal ) is tied around the forehead and then pieces of cloth sewn together in rows to form colorful pigtails (rampai ) are tided at the nape.

This costume, with all the beads and belts, is worn during festivals. Rungus ritual specialist also wear the complete outfit when conducting rituals

MURUT

Being one of the largest indigenous groups in Sabah, Murut comprises of subgroups such as Baukan, Gana’, Kalabakan, Okolod, Paluan, Sulangai, Serudung, Tagal, Timugon and the Beaufort and Keningau Murut. Literally “Murut” means “hill people”. They inhibit the interior and southeastern parts of Sabah and the territory straddling the Kalimantan and Sarawak borders. They are mostly shifting cultivators and hunters with some riverine fishing. Those of Murut origin speak 15 languages and 21 dialects. The language commonly used and understood by the large majority is Tanggal. Their language is also related to the Kadazandusun languages.

Once feared as fearless headhunters and longhouse dwellers, the Murut these days have abandoned much of their age-old traditions especially headhunting. They are also very skilled in hunting with blowpipe.

Customs & Beliefs

In the by-gone era, collecting heads of enemies served a very precise function in Murut society. A man can only get married after he has presented at least one head that he has hunted to the family of the desired girl. Heads also play a very important role in spiritual beliefs.

The essence of Murut tradition of feasts is distinctive. No merrymaking will end at least until sunrise and can last up to seven days later. This is especially the case with weddings or funerals. Through modernization, no more heads must be furnished for weddings but jars along with cloth, beads, gold and ivory bracelets have taken its place. All these dowry items will be proudly displayed at the ceremony. Jars or “sampa” holds a prominent status in their customs. The Murut know the age of sampa and treat them will due respect. Jars are also a place of spirits. Beads play an integral role in Murut life. Wedding beads must be presented in the form of belts, necklaces, headgear and decoration. The wedding ceremony must be held in the bride’s longhouse, tapai or rice wine must be served and all the meat has to be pickled.

The Murut keep the bodies of their deceased in a jar and place them in colourful and elaborately decorated grave-huts along with the deceased’s belongings. The body will be placed in the foetal position inside the jar and a gong will be placed over the mouth of the jar to close it. However this custom of burial is becoming rare with the availability of wooden coffins.

SARAWAK

Sarawak has more than 40 ethnic groups with their own distinct language, culture and lifestyle. Cities and larger towns are populated predominantly by Malays, Melanaus, Chinese, and a smaller percentage of Ibans and Bidayuhs who have migrated from their home-villages for employment reasons. Sarawak is rather distinctive from the rest of Malaysia in that there is only a small community of Indians living in the state.

IBAN

The Ibans form the largest percentage of Sarawak’s population, making up some 30%. Reputed to be   the  most formidable headhunters on the island of Borneo, the Ibans of today are a generous, hospitable and  placid people. The Ibans dwell in longhouses, a stilted structure comprising many rooms housing a whole  community of families. The Ibans are renowned for their Pua Kumbu (traditional Iban weavings), silver  craftings, wooden carvings and beadwork. Iban tattoos which were originally symbols of bravery for the Iban  warriors have become amongst the most distinctive in the world. The Ibans are also famous for their tuak, a  sweet rice wine which is served during big celebrations and festive occasions. Today, the majority of Ibans  are practice Christianity. However, like most other ethnic groups in Sarawak, they still hold strong to their many traditional rituals and beliefs. Sarawak is unique to colourful festivals such as the Gawai Dayak (harvest festival), Gawai Kenyalang (hornbill festival) and Gawai Antu (festival of the dead).

MELANAU

The Melanaus have been thought to be amongst the original settlers of Sarawak. Originally from Mukah  (the  10th Administrative Division as launched in march 2002), the Melanaus traditionally lived in tall houses.  Nowadays, they have adopted a Malay lifestyle, living in kampong-type settlements. Traditionally, Melanaus  were fishermen and till today, they are reputed as some of the finest boat-builders and craftsmen. While the  Melanaus are ethnically different from the Malays, their lifestyles and practices are quite similar especially in  the larger towns and cities where most Melanau have adopted the Islamic faith. The Melanaus were believed  to originally worship spirits in a practice brinking on paganism. Today many of them are Christian and  Muslim, though they still celebrate traditional animist festivals such as the annual Kaul Festival.

BIDAYUH

Originally from West Kalimantan, the Bidayuhs are now most numerous in the hill country of Bau and Serian,  within an hour’s drive from Kuching. Historically, as other tribes were migrating into Sarawak and forming  settlements, the meek-natured Bidayuhs retreated further inland, hence earning them the name of “Land  Dayaks”. The traditional Bidayuh abode is the “baruk”, a roundhouse that rises about 1.5 metres off the  ground. Typical of the Sarawak indigenous groups, the Bidayuhs are well-known for their hospitality, and are  reputed to be the best makers of tuak, or rice wine. The Bidayuhs speak a  number of different but related  dialects. While some of them still practice traditional religions, most  modern-day Bidayuhs have adopted the  Christian faith.

ORANG ULU

The phrase Orang Ulu means upriver people and is a term used to collectively describe the numerous tribes that live upriver in Sarawak’s vast interior. Such groups include the major Kayan and Kenyah tribes, and the smaller neighbouring groups of the Kajang, Kejaman, Punan, Ukit, and Penan. Nowadays, the definition also includes the down-river tribes of the Lun Bawang, Lun Dayeh, Murut and Berawan as well as the plateau-dwelling Kelabits. The various Orang Ulu groups together make up roughly 5.5% of Sarawak’s population. The Orang Ulu are artistic people with longhouses elaborately decorated with murals and woodcarvings. They are also well-known for their intricate beadwork detailed tattoos. The Orang Ulu tribe can also be identified by their unique music – distinctive sounds from their sape, a stringed instrument not unlike the mandolin. A vast majority of the Orang Ulu tribe are Christians but old traditional religions are still practiced in some areas.

PENAN

The Penan are the only true nomadic people in Sarawak and amongst the last of the world’s hunter-   gatherers. The Penan make their home under the rainforest canopy, deep within the vast expanse of   Sarawak’s virgin jungle. Even today, the Penan continue to roam the rainforest hunting wild boar and  deer with blowpipes.

The Penan are skilled weavers and make high-quality rattan baskets and mats. The traditional Penan religion worships a supreme god called Bungan. However, the increasing number who have  abandoned the nomadic lifestyle for settlement in longhouses have converted to Christians.

( All feature articles above  from Tourism Malaysia,  Sabah & Sarawak websites  )

 

 

January 14, 2017

Malaysia Day 2015

Filed under: — mollyosc @ 8:03 am

3x6 banner malaysia day 2015

Dear TSNRA members, residents and supporters,

Once again we are celebrating Malaysia Day to share our love for our country.

We are again having a Charity Buffet Dinner, inviting 50 homeless people from

the streets of George Town to celebrate with us.  Do join us and be a blessing to

them as well. All RAs are NGOs without financial funding from the government.

Malaysia Day is our only big event of the year when all of us can gather

together to fellowship and chat. Often, we do not have many opportunities

to meet up with other residents and also our supporters from all over Penang.

*

Please contact your Area Reps in the link below for your tickets :

https://tsnra.wordpress.com/taman-sri-nibong-ra/committee-20092010/

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tq

Malaysia Day Celebrations

Filed under: — mollyosc @ 5:03 am

malaysia-day-16-sept

TSNRA is one of the Residents’ Associations celebrating Malaysia Day with a

difference almost every year. We believe in inviting the less fortunate from various

homes and homeless street people to celebrate with us. This is made possible because

of support from the community in the form of donations of cash, food and lucky

draws. Look at the links under this heading to view all our past Malaysia Day

celebrations to bless those in need and celebrate the birth of our

beloved, beautiful Malaysia. Come and celebrate with us this year .

November 8, 2013

New Mutant Dengue Virus found in Malaysia

Filed under: from the editor — mollyosc @ 2:36 pm

The Star

Published: Thursday November 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Updated: Thursday November 7, 2013 MYT 9:18:14 AM

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Parliament: Climate change blamed for rise in dengue cases

BY MARTIN CARVALHO, YUEN MEIKENG, AND RAHIMY RAHIM

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CLIMATE change which has brought more rainfall in Malaysia has been blamed for the spike in dengue cases recently, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

He added that the number of dengue fever cases shot up by 10,000 cases from 18,286 cases last year to 29,754 as of last Saturday.

“The other reason is the ability of the dengue virus to mutate. Many victims bitten by the aedes mosquitoes had immunity from one strain, but they were susceptible to mutated viruses,” he said during Question Time.

Dr Subramaniam said Malaysians know that dengue fever spreads through breeding in stagnant water.

“However, the problem is that people’s attitude generally do not change when it involves cleaning up their areas of breeding grounds,” he added.

Sim Tong Him (DAP-Kota Melaka) asked him on the status of the genetically-modified aedes mosquito project.

The minister replied that there were no plans to release the genetically-modified mosquitoes as yet.

“The cost for this project between 2006 and 2012 came to RM3.14mil,” he added.

He added that the project would next involve the effort to cut down dengue cases in four designated zones.

“The costs of the new project would be about RM100mil,” he added.

In 2011, it was reported that the ministry had held talks with Bentong residents in December 2010 over the release of genetically-modified (GM) mosquitoes.

The trial programme of the release of the first male transgenic mosquitoes in Asia, was conducted from Dec 21, 2010 to Jan 5, 2011, in an uninhabited forested area in the district.

It was also reported on Tuesday that mosquitos in Vietnam have been intentionally infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, which blocks the insects from getting dengue and speading it to humans.

Wolbachia is commonly found in many insects.

In 2011, scientists in Brazil launched an experiment to reduce the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito by releasing millions of GM insects into the wild.

They said that the results have been found to be positive.

aedes_aegypti_seitlich

THE PANDORA REPORT 10.25.13

OCTOBER 25, 2013 SIDDHA HOVER 1 COMMENT

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First New Dengue Virus Type in 50 Years

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For the first time in half a century, a new serotype of dengue has been discovered. The strain, found in Malaysia, is phylogenetically distinct from the existing four serotypes. The discovery will complicate existing vaccine efforts, which are already quite complex – prior to this discovery, dengue possessed four distinct serotypes. To date, this newest serotype has only been identified in one outbreak.

Science – “Scientists have discovered a new type of the virus that causes a centuries-old pestilence, dengue. The surprising find, announced at a major dengue conference here today, is bound to complicate efforts to develop a vaccine against a tropical disease that is becoming a more pervasive global menace. But it could shed light on where the pathogen came from and whether it is evolving into a greater threat. The finding “may change the way we think about dengue virus evolution and emergence,” says Duane Gubler, a dengue expert at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.”

October 22, 2011

1 Malaysia

Filed under: — mollyosc @ 10:01 am

Our 1 Malaysia logo had been launched with singing and dancing in an air of festivity. Elsewhere, other parties follow suit. While we didn’t sing and dance here in TSNRA, we all come under this logo. Our Taman is after all a mini ‘1 Malaysia’ with its potpourri of races in our Taman melting pot. Always bearing in mind that we are apolitical, we must support and work closely with our government of the day.

Let me share with you my views on unity. I want our future generation to grow up in a blessed land where they do not see the colours of the skin but the beauty of the hearts. I totally support our PM in his concept of 1 Malaysia but to me this is not something new. We were already 1 Malaysia when we were young.

I grew up in such a generation a long time ago. One of my good friends was a Malay girl called Mariam who used to come over to my house for sleepovers. I still remember her looks – quite fair with adolescent pimples and bespectacled with a short bob.  We would play badminton over the fence or just read and chat. In Assunta Convent, we made skipping ropes with colourful rubber bands, kicked fragrant frangipanis tied with a rubber band and played ‘five stones’ with chilli-red angsana seeds sewn into tiny bags. During recess, we girls of all races played happily – race was never an issue. Our Mother Superior made sure of that, constantly reminding us that God loves all His little children – red or yellow, black or white, they are precious in His sight, and we should do likewise.

It was in the midst of our Form Six years that we had to suffer the bleakest period in Malaysian history – May the 13th. Mariam and I remained close friends and we didn’t understand why all these terrible atrocities were happening around us. I do not wish to dwell on this dark chapter in my life. But I do want to share with you the close bond that all our Chinese, Malay and Indian school friends shared for many years to come after this. My father and Mariam’s father also remained good friends until the day her father passed away.

Today, unity remains a serious issue. I do not wish to hop onto the ‘who-blames-who-merry-go-round’. Every time I read the pages of our dailies or watch the news on TV, some leaders are blaming others for some mess somewhere. Issues never get solved this way. Our government has many campaigns and programs planned to instill the concept of 1 Malaysia. But will all these bear good fruits? Deep within my spirit there’s a grave concern for my country and all her future generations.

Today’s young people are an IT-savvy lot. They are often in front of their PCs or I-phones and they absorb a lot of info, good or bad. Their parents may or may not have a lot of influence on them, but their friends certainly do. All these negative squabbles among our leaders further negate their opinions of their country. They blog about it and network with their friends. Information over the www can spread like a virulent virus.

1 Malaysia has now been launched. How many of our young people will heed this call to unite as one?  They are aware of what has been going on – at this age, all their senses are sharpened to the peak. Their impressionable minds are like sponges, absorbing what they read online. Their passions run high and their emotions are also volatile, prone to outbursts as they speak out loudly and act boldly.

What about their parents? They have the watched the ups and downs of our country. Some pass down their anger and bitterness to their children while others only care about themselves and their families. The rest may awaken to this call but can anyone estimate this number?

Too much has been said and done. Careless words, cuttings words, coarse words, cruel words that stab through a human heart without drawing blood – read the verses below :

  1. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
  2. “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. The  truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:18)
  3. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)
  4. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
  5. “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)
  6. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge  rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:1)
  7. “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Such dissenting, destructive words have rooted deep into the spirit of many Malaysians. We are a nation in need of healing and forgiveness. We  know about forgiving others, but we also have to forgive a nation. The Oxford Dictionary defines nation as “ a large community of people, usually sharing a common history, language etc and living under one government ”.

In the light of all these, let me share with you excerpts of a thought provoking article entitled  “ Choices – Living Consciously : Are We Ready to Forgive?” by Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Cape Town and the recipient of many honors and degrees, including the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

“Is forgiveness possible at a national level? And if so, how can political leaders support that process?

A nation is made up of individual persons but it also has an ethos, a culture, a tradition, a corporate memory and identity, distinct from those individuals. A nation can do good, can triumph, can fail. A nation can be held accountable for a holocaust, and so a nation must remember national achievements of which it is proud. It must recall the things that make it hang its head in shame and perhaps be a little less arrogant as it recalls its own anguish.

Leaders can influence the mood of their people; they can make them vengeful or conciliatory; they can pander to their baser instincts or they can hold out a vision of the sublime, of the noble, of the idealistic.

We are exhorted to forgive one another. And we can do this only through God’s grace. It is ultimately God at work in us to make us to be like God. Yes, it is a tall order, but that is the love that changes the world, that believes an enemy is a friend waiting to be made.

God does not give up on anyone, for God looks on each of us as a masterpiece in the making. But God took an incredible risk in creating us not to be automatons but to be decision-making creatures with the freedom to choose to obey or not to obey God, to love or not to love God and others.

That is why we admire not the macho, the aggressively successful. No, we revere a small, frail woman, Mother Theresa because she was good. The world admires an old man, Nelson Mandela, because he is magnanimous, he is forgiving, he is good. We have an instinct for goodness, our hearts thrill in the presence of goodness for God has made us for himself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.

Dear friends, please remember that ultimately there is no future without forgiveness.”

Our nation needs healing. There are wounded hearts and rejected spirits throughout our history. We have to forgive others, especially some of our leaders, for our past hurts and release them to God. When unforgiveness takes root, it will destroy lives and a nation. We can try to mask this by decorating our ‘ tree of unity’ with beautiful flowers among its branches as we dance and sing around it. However, the rot slowly creeps up from the roots and weakens the tree. One fine day, we may wake up to find it has uprooted and fallen to the ground. When we forgive, we are healed and we are set free. Then and only then can we move on to make Malaysia a truly great nation.

– Molly S.C. Ooi

October 5, 2011

(9) Malaysian Food – a melting pot of its rich culture

Filed under: from the editor — mollyosc @ 5:44 am
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Malaysian cuisine reflects the multicultural aspects of Malaysia. Various ethnic groups in Malaysia have their own dishes, but many dishes in Malaysia are derived from multiple ethnic influences.[1] Food preparation differs from place to place, although many of the foods used are alike. Spices, aromatic herbs and roots are all used in Malaysian cuisine.[2]

Staple foods

RICE

Nasi Lemak.

Rice tends to be a staple food in Malaysia as in most countries in the region. The rice eaten in Malaysia tends to be the local variety of rice or fragrant rice from Thailand, its northern neighbour. Quality Indian basmati is used in biryani dishes due to its long grained shape, fragrance and delicate flavour. Japanese short grain rice and others are slowly entering the Malaysian diet as Malaysians expand their culinary tastes to new areas.

A popular dish based on rice is nasi lemak: rice steamed with coconut milk to give it a rich fragrance, and served with fried anchovies, peanuts, sliced cucumber, hard boiled eggs and a spicy chilli paste known as sambal. For a more substantial meal, nasi lemak can also be served with a choice of curries, or a spicy meat stew called rendang. Of Malay origin, nasi lemak is often called the national dish.[3] Although it is traditionally a breakfast dish, because of the versatility of nasi lemak in being able to be served in a variety of ways, it is now often eaten at any time of the day. The Malaysian Indian variety of the sambal tends to be a bit more spicy, and the Malay sambal in a nasi lemak tends to be a bit sweeter. Nasi lemak is not to be confused with nasi dagang, which is sold on the east coast of Malaysia — Terengganu and Kelantan — although both nasi lemak and nasi dagang can usually be found sold side-by-side for breakfast.

NOODLES

Noodles are another popular food, particularly in Malaysian Chinese cuisine, but used by other groups also. Noodles such as bi hoon (米粉, Hokkien: bí-hún, Malay: bihun; rice vermicelli), kuay teow (粿條, Hokkien: kóe-tiâu) or ho fun (河粉, Cantonese: ho4 fan2; flat rice noodles), mee (麵 or 面, Hokkien: mī, Malay: mi; yellow noodles), mee suah (麵線 or 面线, Hokkien: mī-sòaⁿ; wheat vermicelli), yee meen (伊麵 or 伊面, Cantonese: ji1 min6; golden wheat noodles), langka (冬粉, Hokkien: tang-hún, Cantonese: dung1 fan2; transparent noodles made from mung beans), and others provide a source of carbohydrate besides the ubiquitous serving of rice that accompanies every meal.

BREAD

Indian style bread such as roti canai, dhosai (Tamil: தோசை tōcai /t̪oːsaj/), , idli (Tamil: இட்லி iṭli /ɪɖlɪ/) and puri (Tamil: பூரி pūri /puːɾɪ/) are commonly eaten by most Malaysians as part of breakfast. Western style bread is a relatively new addition to the Malaysian diet, having gained acceptance in the last generation.

MEAT

Poultry

Malaysian poultry is handled according to Halal standards, to conform with the country’s dominant and official religion, Islam. [4] Imported poultry is quite rare.

Beef

Beef is common in the Malaysian diet though it is notable that followers of certain religions such as Hinduism and some forms of Buddhism forbid the consumption of beef. Beef can be commonly found cooked in curries, stews, roasted, or with noodles. Malays generally eat beef that is halal. Australian fresh beef which is being prepared under supervision Government Supervised Muslim Slaughter System (AGSMS) is imported into Malaysia and that beef is halal.[5]]

  • Australian beef can also be found in supermarkets such as Giant.
  • Fresh beef can be found in supermarkets and hypermarkets.
Pork

Pork is largely consumed by the non-Muslim community in Malaysia like the Malaysian Chinese, Indian, natives like Iban, Kadazan, Orang Asli and expatriates. Most Malaysian Malays are Muslim and therefore do not consume pork since Islam forbids it but does not prohibit others from producing and consuming pork products. Pork can be bought in wet markets, supermarkets and hypermarkets.[6]During the Nipah virus epidemic, over a million pigs were culled in an effort to contain the outbreak. [7]

Mutton

Mutton is also a part of the Malaysian cuisine. It generally refers to goat meat rather than sheep. The meat is used in dishes such as goat soup, curries, or stews. It is a popular ingredient in Malaysian Indian food.

Seafood

Many types of seafood are consumed in Malaysia, including shrimp or prawn, crab, squid, cuttlefish, clams, cockles, snails, and octopus. In general, members of all ethnic communities enjoy seafood, which is considered halal by Malaysian Muslims (and indeed most other Muslims), though some species of crabs are not considered Halal as they can live on both land and sea.

Fish

Fish features in the Malaysian diet and most local fish is purchased the day after it is caught. Frozen fish is generally imported. Such fish, namely salmon and cod, are well received on the Malaysian table but are not caught by local fishermen. Imported fish are frozen and flown in as pieces or as whole fish and usually sold by weight.

Vegetables

Vegetables are usually available year round as Malaysia does not have four seasons. During the rainy season, sometimes vegetable yield decreases but does not stop altogether. Therefore, vegetables can be purchased throughout the year but are slightly more expensive at certain times of the year.

Fruits

Malaysia’s climate allows for fruits to be grown all year round. Most tropical fruits are either grown in Malaysia or imported from neighbouring countries. The demand for fruits is generally quite high. Some notable fruits include:

  • The durian, a fruit with a spiky outer shell and a characteristic odour is a local tropical fruit that is notable because it provokes strong emotions either of loving it or hating it. It is also known as the “King of the Fruits”.
  • The rambutan also has a distinctive appearance, being red or yellow in colour (when ripe) and having fleshy pliable spines or ‘hairs’ on its outer skin.
  • The mangosteen, often called the “Queen of the Fruits”.
  • The lychee, which has a bumpy red skin and sweet, sometimes made with tea to make it sweet. they are sold all year round.
  • The mango, a refreshing fruit
  • The longan, which name translates to ‘Dragon Eye’ in Chinese, and is called mata kucing in Malay (literally ‘cat’s eye’) and it’s similar to lychee

Food types

Malay cuisine bears many similarities to Indonesian cuisine, in particular some of the regional traditions from Sumatra. It has also been influenced by Chinese, Indian, Thai and many other cultures throughout history, producing a distinct cuisine of their own. Many Malay dishes revolve around a Rempah, which is a spice paste or mix similar to an Indian Masala. Rempahs are made by grinding up fresh and/or dried spices and herbs to create a spice paste which is then sauteed in oil to bring out the aromas.[8]

Malay food

Main article: Malay cuisine

Typical festive fare during Hari Raya Puasa or Hari Raya Haji (clockwise from bottom left): beef soup, nasi himpit (compressed rice cubes), beef rendang and sayur lodeh.

  • Apam balik – a bread like puff with sugar, corn, and coarse nut in the middle.
  • Ayam percik – grilled chicken with spicy sauce.
  • Ayam goreng kunyit – deep fried chicken, marinated in a base of turmeric and other seasonings.
  • Ikan bakar – grilled/barbecued fish with either chilli, kunyit (turmeric) or other spice based sauce.
  • Keropok lekor, a specialty of the state of Terengganu and other states on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, is a savoury cake made from a combination of batter and shredded fish. Sliced and fried just before serving, it is eaten with hot sauce.
  • Kuih(plural: kuih-muih) is usually a selection of cakes, pastries and sweetmeats eaten as a snack during the morning or during midday, and are an important feature during festive occasions. It is a tradition shared by both the Malay and the Peranakan communities. Some example include:
    • Onde onde – small round balls made from glutinous rice flour with pandan [screwpine] leaves essence, filled with palm sugar and rolled in fresh grated coconut.
    • Kuih talam – steamed layered coconut pudding made of rice flour, sago flour and coconut milk is cooked by steaming. Pandan leaves lends aroma and the green color to one layer. A white coconut layer goes on top.
    • Pulut inti – a kind of steamed ‘dry’ rice pudding made from glutinous rice & coconut milk. It is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves folded into a pyramid shape, and topped with fresh grated coconut sweetened with palm sugar.
    • Layer Cake – a sweet cake with many layers
  • Mee rebus – a famous noodle dish which consists of mee (a spaghetti like mixture of flour, salt and egg) served with a tangy, spicy and sweet potato-based sauce. It is sometimes also called mee jawa, perhaps as a nod to its Javanese origins.
  • Nasi berlauk – Plain rice served with different variety of dishes
  • Nasi Dagang – the Nasi Lemak of east coast Peninsula Malaysia, in the state of Terengganu and Kelantan.
  • Nasi kerabu – a type of rice which is blue in color (dyed by a kind of blue flower or bunga telang), originated in Kelantan state.
  • Nasi Paprik – originated from southern Thailand, rice with “lauk”, typically chicken.
  • Nasi Minyak – a multi-colored rice (dyed in a similar manner to Nasi Kerabu) usually eaten with rendang. It is very oily as the name implies. (minyak means oil)
  • Nasi goreng – fried rice. Nasi goreng kampung is a typical variant, traditionally flavored with pounded fried fish (normally mackerel), though recently fried anchovies are used in place of it.
  • Soto – Soup with mee hun or ketupat.
  • Pulut– Glutinous rice is a type of short-grained Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It is widely used during the Raya festive seasons as traditional food.
    • Ketupat – a type of glutinous rice dumpling that has been wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch and boiled. As the rice cooks, the grains expand to fill the pouch and the rice becomes compressed. This method of cooking gives the ketupat its characteristic form and texture. Usually eaten with rendang (a type of dry beef curry) or served as an accompaniment to satay or gado-gado. Ketupat is also traditionally served by Malays at open houses on festive occasions such as Idul Fitri (Hari Raya Aidilfitri).
  • Rendang – a spicy meat stew originating from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia, rendang is traditionally prepared by the Malay community during festive occasions.
  • Roti jala – The name is derived from the Malay word ‘roti’ (bread) and ‘jala’ (net). A special ladle with a five-hole perforation used to make the bread looks like a fish net (picture in the works). It is usually eaten as an accompaniment to a curried dish, or served as a sweet with ‘serawa’. Serawa is made from a mixture of boiled coconut milk, brown sugar and pandan leaves.
  • Sambal sotong – squid are cooked in a sambal-based sauce, made with chillies, shallots, garlic, stewed tomatoes, tamarind paste and belacan.
  • Sayur Lodeh – a stew of vegetables cooked in a lightly spiced coconut milk gravy.
  • Sup kambing – a hearty mutton soup slow simmered with aromatic herbs and spices, and garnished with fried shallots and fresh cilantro.
  • Serunding – Shredded meat in a form of meat floss with spices.
  • Tempoyak – a popular Malay delicacy. It is durian extract which is preserved and kept in an urn. Commonly eaten with chillies and other dishes.

Malaysian Indian food

List of Indian sweets and desserts

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Malaysian Indian cuisine of the ethnic Indians in Malaysia is similar to its roots in India, especially South India although there are many notable foods with influences from North India too. Hands are washed before and the right hand is used during the meal. Malaysian Indian curries uses a lot of spices, coconut milk, and curry leaves. Some of the most popular curries include Chicken Curry, Fish Curries, and Squid Curry.

  • Banana leaf rice is white rice served on banana leaf with an assortment of vegetables, curry meat or fish and papadum.
  • Chapati is a type of bread originated from Punjab. It is made from a dough of atta flour (whole grain durum wheat), water and salt by rolling the dough out into discs of approximately twelve centimeters in diameter and browning the discs on both sides on a very hot, dry tava or frying pan (preferably not one coated with Teflon or other nonstick material). Chapatis are usually eaten with vegetable curry dishes, and pieces of the chapati are used to wrap around and pick up each bite of the cooked dish.
  • Fish head curry – a dish where the head of a fish (usually ikan merah, or literally “red fish”), is semi-stewed in a thick curry with assorted vegetables such as okra and brinjals.
  • Thosai (in Johor Bharu spelt Dosai) is a batter made from lentils and rice blended with water and left to ferment overnight. The batter is spread into a thin, circular disc on a flat, preheated pan, where it is fried with a dash of edible oil or ghee until the dosa reaches a golden brown colour. Then the thosai may optionally be turned over on the pan, and partially fried. The end product is neatly folded and served. Thosai is served with sambar (vegetable curry) and coconut chutney.
  • Idli is made from lentils (specifically black lentils) and rice — into patties, usually two to three inches in diameter, using a mold and steamed. Most often eaten at breakfast or as a snack, idli are usually served in pairs with chutney, sambar, or other accompaniments.
  • Naan bread is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread. It is usually eaten with an array of sauces such as Chutney and curries such as Dhal curry. Some examples of Naan bread include Garlic Naan, Butter Naan, Garlic Butter Naan, Cheese Naan, Garlic Cheese Naan.
  • Paneer is a dish that uses cheese. Unlike other types of cheese, it does not use rennet as the coagulation agent. This makes it completely lacto-vegetarian. Some of the usual types of Paneer include Paneer Tikka, Paneer Butter Masala and Palak Paneer (Spinach).
  • Payasam – A popular dessert, payasam is an integral part of traditional South Indian culture.
  • Pongal – rice boiled with milk and jaggery, it also shares the same name as the harvest festival which is celebrated every January. The name itself is derived from the fact that pongal (the dish) is cooked in the morning and offered to the gods, thanking them for the harvest.
  • Putu Mayam (String hoppers/ Idiyappam) is a sweet dish of rice noodles with coconut and jaggery as main ingredients. It is served with grated coconut and jaggery, or, unrefined block sugar. In some areas, gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) is the favourite sweetener. Putu piring is a version of putu mayam in which the rice flour dough is used to form a small cake around a filling of coconut and brown sugar. The homemade version in Malaysian Indian homes tend to be eaten as a savoury accompaniment to curried dishes or dal.
  • Rasam, lentil soup with pepper, coriander and cumin seeds

Mamak (Indian Muslims) dishes have developed a distinctly Malaysian style. Available throughout the country, the omnipresent Mamak stalls or restaurants are particularly popular among the locals as they offer a wide range of food and some outlets are open 24 hours a day. A type of Indian Muslim meal served buffet-style at specialist Mamak eateries is called nasi kandar (analogous to the Indonesian nasi padang, where you pay for what you have actually eaten), white rice or briyani rice served with other dishes of curry either with chicken, fish, beef, or mutton, and usually accompanied with pickled vegetable and papadums.

  • Roti canai is a thin bread with a flaky crust, fried on a skillet and served with condiments. It is sometimes referred to as roti kosong. In Singapore, it is referred to as prahta. Roti telur is a roti canai with egg in it. Telur means egg.
  • Mamak rojak is a variant of rojak consisting of substantial ingredients like boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Also known as ‘pasembur’.
  • Murtabak is a dish of savoury stuffed roti, usually including minced mutton, garlic, onion, and folded with an omelette, and is eaten with curry sauce.
  • Nasi Beriani or Biryani is a rice dish from the made from a mixture of spices, basmati rice, meat/vegetables and yogurt. The ingredients are ideally cooked together in the final phase and is time-consuming to prepare. Pre-mixed biryani spices from different commercial names are easily available in markets these days, which reduces the preparation time though the taste differs considerably.
  • Teh tarik literally meaning “pulled tea”, is a well-loved drink amongst Malaysians. Tea is sweetened using condensed milk, and is prepared using out-stretched hands to pour piping hot tea from a mug into a waiting glass, repetitively. The higher the “pull”, the thicker the froth. The “pulling” of tea also has the effect of cooling down the tea. Teh tarik is an art form in itself and watching the tea streaming back and forth into the containers can be quite captivating.

Malaysian Chinese food

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Penang Rojak in Malaysia.

Malaysian Chinese food is derived from mainland Chinese cuisine but has been influenced by local ingredients and dishes from other cultures though it remains distinctly Chinese. Most Chinese meals have pork as their sub-ingredient, but due to the popularity and unique taste of the actual food, there are chicken options available for the local Malays (most Malays are Muslims). Some Chinese food restaurants nowadays can be found serving halal food. Chinese restaurants serving food in halal can introduce a wider range of customers to it.

  • Bak Kut Teh (Chinese : 肉骨茶) (pork ribs soup). A soup cooked with herbs, garlic and pork ribs which have been boiled for many hours. The city of Klang is famous for it. In some towns, additional ingredients include sea cucumber and abalone. Bak kut teh is believed to have medicinal properties.
  • Bakkwa (Chinese : 肉干), Known also as barbecued pork and it literally means dried meat. This delicacy is sold everywhere throughout Malaysia and is especially popular during the Chinese New Year celebrations period.
  • Bread with curry chicken, chicken cooked in curry with a covering of bread. Found in the town of Kampar.
  • Cantonese Fried Mee. (Chinese : 廣府炒, 河粉, 鴛鴦) Deep fried thin rice noodles served in a thick egg and cornstarch white sauce. The sauce is cooked with sliced lean pork, prawns, squids and green vegetables such as choy sum. It is one of the common Chinese foods in Malaysia.
  • Chai tow kway (Chinese : 菜頭粿) is a common dish in Malaysia and Singapore, also known as fried radish cake, it is made of rice flour and white radish.
  • Char Kway Teow (Chinese : 炒粿條,炒河粉). Stir fried rice noodleswith prawns, eggs (pork or chicken), chives and beansprouts. Usually, with an option of cockles as well.

    Kulim Char Kway Teow

  • Chee cheong fun (Chinese : 豬腸粉) is square rice sheets made from a viscous mixture of rice flour and water. This liquid is poured onto a specially-made flat pan in which it is steamed to produce the square rice sheets.
  • Curry Mee (Chinese : 咖喱面). A bowl of thin yellow noodles mixed with beehoon (rice vermicelli) in spicy curry soup with coconut milk with dried tofu, prawns, cuttlefish, chicken, mint leaves and topped with a special sambal.
  • Duck noodle soup (Chinese : 鸭腿面线) is famous in Penang food stalls, ingredients include duck meat in hot soup with mixed herbals and slim white noodles mee-sua.
  • Fuzhou cuisine can be found in the Sitiawan area, as well as several cities and towns in Sarawak. Specialities include Kong piang.
  • Ginger Duck Mee (Chinese : 姜鸭面). Egg noodles cooked with duck stew. The duck is stewed with ginger in black sauce. This dish is available only from selected restaurants in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley as the duck stew can be cumbersome to prepare.
  • Hainanese Chicken Rice (Chinese : 海南雞飯). steamed chicken served with rice cooked in margarine or chicken fat & chicken stock and chicken soup. The rice is usually served in a bowl or a plate but in Malacca (a historical town), the rice is served in the form of rice balls.
  • Hakka cuisine can be found throughout the country, as there is a substantial Hakka community within the greater Chinese population. Yong tau foo (Chinese : 酿豆腐) is a stuffed tofu dish with Hakka origins but is now popular Malaysians of all races, and is particularly associated with . As a localiazed adaptation, brinjals, lady fingers, fried tofu, bitter melon and chillies are also stuffed with the same meat paste used for the original version.
  • Hokkien Mee(Chinese : 福建麵). A dish of thick yellow noodles fried in thick black soy sauce and pork lard which has been fried until it is crispy. This dish is served mostly in Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Klang, Kuantan and Penang.
  • Hokkien Mee or Hae Mee or Prawn Mee (Penang) This is a bowl of yellow mee and meehoon (rice noodles) served in soup boiled from prawns, boiled egg, kangkong vegetable and chilli.
  • Kaya toast or Roti bakar is a traditional breakfast dish. Kaya is a sweet coconut and egg jam, and this is spread over toasted white bread. Traditionally served with a cup of local coffee/tea and soft-boiled eggs in light/dark soya sauce & ground white pepper.
  • Kway chap (Chinese : 粿汁), Teochew dish of rice sheets in dark soya soup, served with pig offal, tofu derivatives and boiled eggs.
  • Loh Mee (Chinese : 滷麵). A bowl of thick yellow noodles served in a thickened soup made from egg, flour, prawn, pork slices and vegetables.
  • Mee Hoon Kor (Chinese : 面粉粿)
  • Ngah Choy Kai (Bean sprouts chicken) of Ipoh (Chinese : 芽菜雞) is similar to Hainanese chicken rice. The steamed chicken are served with light soya sauce flavoured with oil and with a plate of beansprouts. This dish is favoured by all Malaysians.
  • Ngah Po Fan Also known as Claypot Rice/Sha Po Fan(Chinese : 瓦煲雞飯 or 沙煲饭) is a claypot chicken rice dish. It is basically chicken rice cooked over high heat in copious amount of soy and oyster sauce. Dried salted fish is optional but highly recommended.
  • Pan Mee or Ban Mian (Chinese : 板面) is a Hokkien-style egg noodle soup, some forms of Ban mian, comprises hand-kneaded pieces of dough, while others use regular strips of noodles.
  • Pao (Chinese : 包) also known as bao, is a steamed bun made of wheat flour, with fillings of various types of meat. It is usually a menu item found in Dim Sum places, although these days it can be seen in most coffee stalls.
  • Popiah (Chinese : 薄饼), Hokkien/Chaozhou-style rolled crepe spring roll style , stuffed mainly with stewed vegetables, usually shredded tofu, turnip and carrots. Other items may also include egg, Chinese sausage (“lup cheong”).
  • Rojak (Malay Influenced: 水果囉喏). A fruit salad with a topping of thick dark prawn paste and some sliced fried ‘yau cha kwai’. The Penang version is particularly popular and well regarded.
  • Sin Chow (Singapore) Fried Meehoon (Chinese : 星洲米粉). Rice noodles stir fried with various ingredients such as barbecued pork, fish cake, carrots etc. Some restaurants may use different ingredients but the noodles should have the distinct Sin Chow Fried Rice Noodle taste. Popular in Kuala Lumpur and surrounding areas. The American Chinese version uses curry powder. Interestingly, this dish did not originate from Singapore.
  • Turmeric chicken (黄姜鸡) is a chicken stew cooked with from a blend of bases mashed into a paste, consisting fresh turmeric, ginger and lemongrass.
  • Tau foo fah or Dau Huay (Chinese : 豆腐花 or 豆花) is a curdled version of soya bean milk and is flavoured with syrup. It looks much like Tau Foo but it is very tender. Sold in many places. It is a popular dessert among Malaysians and Singaporeans.
  • Tong Sui (Chinese : 糖水), Chinese dessert with a lot of variety. Basically a sweet drink with different ingredients such as black beans, sea coconut, yam, sweet potato, longan and others.
  • Vegetarian dishes (Chinese : 素食, 斎) In some towns in Malaysia, there are vegetarian restaurants that serve vegetarian dishes which resembles many meat dishes in look and even taste although they are made solely from vegetarian ingredients. You can get vegetarian roast pork, steamed fish with skin and bone, chicken drumstick complete with authentic looking bone, etc.

Wantan Mee

  • Wonton Mee (Chinese : 雲吞麵), Chinese noodles with Chinese dumplings (Chinese : 雲吞), chooi sam and BBQ pork . Dumpling are usually made of Pork and/or prawns. The noodles may be served either in a bowl of soup with dumplings or on a plate with some dark soya sauce flavoured with oil and slices of roast pork and vegetable. For the latter, the dumplings will be served in a separate bowl with soup.
  • Wu Tau Guo (Chinese : 芋頭糕), is yam cake that is made of mashed yam and rice flour. It has deep fried onion and shrimp on top, and usually served with red chilli paste.
  • Yau Zha Gwai or Eu Char Kway or You Tiao (Chinese : 油炸鬼 or 油条) is Cantonese doughnut, a breakfast favourite eaten either like a doughnut—with coffee, or as a condiment for congee. It is shaped like a pair of chopsticks, stuck together. The name itself amusingly translates into “greasy fried ghosts”.
  • Zuk or zhou (Chinese : 粥) is congee, a rice porridge that comes with such ingredients as fish slices, chicken breast, salted egg, century egg and minced pork. Mui is the teochew version of rice porridge, and is usually more watery with visible rice grains. It is often cooked with sweet potato and served with an assortment of Chinese dishes like vegetables, meat and salted egg.
  • Duck Roaster (Chinese : 烧鸭) is a duck roaster. The famous duck roaster located in Lunas, Kulim.

    Kulim Duck Roaster

Nyonya food

Main article: Peranakan cuisine

A bowl of Asam laksa.

Nyonya food was developed by the Nyonya (Straits Chinese) and Peranakan (mixed Chinese/Malay ancestry) people of Malaysia and Singapore. It uses mainly Chinese ingredients but blends them with South-East Asian spices such as coconut milk, lemon grass, turmeric, screwpine leaves, chillies and sambal. It can be considered as a blend of Chinese and Malay cooking with some Thai influence .

Examples of Nyonya dishes include:

  • Acar – various pickled meats and vegetables like acar keat lah (honey lime/calamansi), achar hu (fried fish), acar kiam hu (salt fish), acar timun (cucumber), acar awat (mixed vegetables).
  • Asam Laksa (Malay: 亞三叻沙). A bowl of thick white rice noodles served in a soup made of fish meat, tamarind, onion, basil, pineapple and cucumber in slices.
  • Ayam pongteh, a chicken stew cooked with tauchu or salted soy beans and gula melaka. It is usually saltish-sweet and can be substituted as a soup dish in peranakan cuisine.
  • Ayam buah keluak, a chicken dish cooked using the nuts from Pangium edule or the “Kepayang” tree, a mangrove tree that grows in Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Bak Chang. Similar to the original zongzi, or Chinese rice dumpling, made from glutinous rice wrapped in leaf along with pork, shiitake mushrooms, nut and salted egg yolk of a duck’s egg. A common Peranakan variant (Nyonya zong (娘惹粽) involves pandan leaves being used as the wrapping instead.
  • Cincalok, a distinctly Nyonya condiment made of fermented shrimp
  • Itek Tim or Kiam Chye Ark Th’ng is a soup whose main ingredients are duck and preserved mustard leaf and cabbage flavoured with nutmeg seed, Chinese mushrooms, tomatoes and peppercorns.
  • Jiew Hu Char is a dish made up mainly of shredded vegetables like turnip or jicama, carrot, and cabbage and fried together with thinly shredded dried cuttlefish.
  • Kerabu Bee Hoon is a salad dish comprising rice vermicelli mixed with sambal belacan, honey lime (limau kesturi/calamansi) juice, and finely-chopped herbs and spices. Other famous salad dishes are kerabu bok née (black fungus/tikus telinga), kerabu kay (chicken), kerabu kay khar (chicken feet), kerabu timun (cucumber), kerabu kobis (cabbage), kerabu kacang botol (four angled bean), kerabu bak poey (pork skin).
  • Kiam Chye Boey is a mixture of leftovers from Kiam Chye Ark Th’ng, Jiew Hu Char, Tu Thor Th’ng and a variety of other dishes. “Boey” literally means “end”.
  • Laksa lemak is a type of laksa served in a rich coconut gravy.
  • Lam Mee is long yellow rice noodles cooked in a rich gravy made from the stock of prawns and chicken. It is always served at birthdays to wish the birthday boy or girl a long life, and is also known as birthday noodles.
  • Masak Belanda is a dish made from sliced pork and salt fish simmered together with tamarind juice.
  • Masak Lemak is a style of cooking vegetable stew that makes liberal use of coconut milk. There are various versions of masak lemak. One example uses spinach as the main ingredient. In another version sweet potato is the main ingredient.
  • Masak Titik is a style of cooking vegetable soup that makes liberal use of peppercorns. One version uses watermelon rind as the main ingredient. Another makes use of green or semi ripe papaya.
  • Mee Siam is a dish of thin rice noodles (vermicelli) in spicy, sweet and sour light gravy.
  • Nasi Kunyit (Translated into English as “Turmeric Rice”) is glutinous rice cooked with turmeric colouring and is usually served with coconut milk chicken curry, “Ang Koo” (Literally “Red Tortoise”, a Nyonya Cake) and Pink-dyed hard-boiled egg(s) as a gift of appreciation in celebration of the 1st month of a newly-born child.
  • Nasi Ulam is a herbed rice comprising a variety of herbs (daun kaduk, daun cekur, daun kesum etc.) shredded thinly and mixed raw into hot rice with pounded dried shrimp (hae bee) and salt fish (kiam hu) and chopped shallots.
  • Ngo Hiang (so called because of the use of Chinese five spice powder to flavour the minced meat), also known as Lor Bak (so called because of the lor or starch-based dipping sauce) is a fried, sausage like dish made from minced pork rolled up in soya bean curd sheets and deep fried.
  • Otak-otak is a fish cake grilled in a banana leaf wrapping. The town of Muar is famous for it. The Penang Otak Otak is steamed, not grilled and the distinct flavour and aroma or daun kaduk and coconut milk is clearly evident in this unique version.
  • Perut Ikan is a spicy stew (of the asam pedas variety similar to asam laksa) comprising mainly vegetables/herbs and getting its distinctive taste mainly from fish bellies preserved in brine and daun kaduk (The Wild Pepper leaf is from the Piper stylosum or the Piper sarmentosum). A classic Penang Nyonya dish.
  • Se Bak, pork loin, marinated overnight with herbs and spices, cooked over a slow fire and simmered to perfection.
  • Ter Thor T’ng (pig’s stomach soup) requires a skilled cook to prepare and deodorise the ingredients, using salt, before cooking. Its main ingredients are pig’s stomach and white peppercorns.

Sarawak Indigenous Cuisine

Sarawakian tends to have a distinct cuisine from their Peninsula counterparts. Some of them are purely traditional cuisine of the natives, while some are influenced by either Chinese or Indian cuisine. Among the cuisine unique to Sarawak are:

  • Laksa Sarawak, is a beehoon with curry aroma gravy (although it doesn’t taste like one) topped with shredded chicken, egg and chilli paste.
  • Sarawak Kolo Mee, is a slightly sweet and the char siew, devoid of cholesterol-inducing lard at the sides, compliments the dish. Halal-type Kolo mee normally replaces pork slices with beef. Beef stock is used to replace lard.
  • Manok Pansoh, is a traditional Iban cuisine. Chicken is briefly cooked in a bamboo until astonishingly tender and complimented with lemongrass, ginger and tapioca leaves. Another similar to Manok Pansoh but with added rice, is a traditional Bidayuh cuisine named Assam Siok. While Manok Pansoh turns out to be a chicken dish, Assam Siok is simply a chicken rice. It can be hardly found in any restaurants in Sarawak as it is normally home cooked.
  • Umai, is a traditional Melanau cuisine. It is a raw seafood salad consists of raw sliced seafood (either ‘terubok’ fish, prawn or jellyfish), sliced onions and served with ketchup and chillies. ‘Umai Jeb’ is a type of umai with no other ingredients than the seafood itself. Normally fresh ‘terubok’ fish is used. It is similar to Japanese sashimi.
  • Kek Lapis Sarawak, or Sarawak layer cakes are famous among not only Sarawakian, but Peninsular Malaysian, especially during festive seasons. It is a must have for festive occasions like Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Gawai and Christmas. There are varieties of layer cakes with some unique though awkward name like Dangdut cake, 1Malaysia cake etc. However, the most popular ones are Sabok Tun Razak layer cakes, Evergreen layer cakes and Hati Pari cakes. Although some cakes are not layer cakes like Hati Pari, Batu Delima and Proton Saga, they are also considered as layer cakes.
  • Linut, is a sticky broiled sagu flour, normally complimented with ‘sambal belacan’ (shrimp paste) or curry gravy. It is popular among Melanau and Kedayan people in Sarawak. The same cuisine can be observed in Sabah and Brunei with different name, which is ‘ambuyat’.
  • Tebes or Ti’ong, is a traditional Melanau Baie ‘kuih’, which originated from Bintulu. It consists of fresh shrimps, wrapped wholly in coconut husk, and wrapped again in pandan or coconut leaves, then toasted.
  • Selorot, is a traditional Sarawakian Malay ‘kuih’. It is made from palm sugar and rice flour, cooked in a spiraled coconut leaves. It is normally eaten during a tea break, normally between lunch and dinner.
  • Midin, is a jungle fern (quite similar to ‘pucuk paku’ that is popular in the Peninsular, but crispier). Midin is much sought after for its crisp texture and great taste. Midin is usually served in two equally delicious ways – fried with either garlic or belacan (shrimp paste). It is normally eaten with rice.
  • Nasik Aruk is a traditional Sarawakian Malay fried rice. Unlike Nasi Goreng, Nasik Aruk does not use any oil to fry the rice. The ingredients are garlic, onion and anchovies, fried to perfection with very little oil and then rice. The rice must be fried for longer time (compared to frying rice for Nasi Goreng) for the smokey/slightly-burnt taste to absorb into the rice. It is a common to see Nasik Aruk in the food menu list at Malay and Mamak coffee shops and stalls throughout Sarawak.
  • Tomato noodle is a variation of the popular fried noodle or kueh tiaw (thin, flat rice noodles), with tomato gravy, meat (usually chicken pieces), vegetables and seafood (usually prawns). Sometimes crispy noodle is used.
  • Foochow bagel is a traditional Foochow Chinese food. It is normally addressed as kompia. This pastry can only be found in Sibu, Bintangor or Sarikei where ethnic Chinese of Foochow clan formed a majority.
  • Bubur Pedas (or transliterated as ‘spicy porridge) is unlike many other porridge that we know. Bubur Pedas is cooked with a specially prepared paste. It is quite spicy thanks to its ingredients, which include spices, turmeric, lemon grass, galangal, chillies, ginger, coconut and shallots. Like the famous Bubur Lambuk of Kuala Lumpur, Bubur Pedas is exclusive dish prepared during the month of Ramadan and served during the breaking of fast.
  • Tuak is a type of liquor, unique to Iban and Bidayuh communities in Sarawak. It is made from either fermented rice or sugarcane although the former is more popular. It is normally served as a welcoming drink to guests, or during festive occasions like Gawai or Christmas.
  • Manok kacangma is a type of traditional Chinese-influenced dish, consists of a tender chicken parts cooked with lots of garlics and ‘kacangma’ herbs. Non-Muslims normally cook ‘manok kacangma’ with some Chinese wine or ‘tuak’ of their choice.
  • Kelupis is similar to ‘ketupat’, but wrapped in spiraled pandan leaves. The rice used is glutinous rice, unlike ketupat which normally use plain rice.
  • Pulut panggang is a type of traditional Malay kuih in Sarawak, which is a glutinous rice wrapped in pandan leaves then cooked over a fire. Unlike ‘pulut panggang’ in Peninsula, Sarawakian pulut panggang has more tastes in its glutinous rice and no filling.
  • Murtabak corned beef is a type of traditional Indian-influenced dish. It is similar to murtabak in Peninsular Malaysia, but with corned beef filling. It is unique to Sarawak and Brunei Malays.
  • Terubok Masin is a salted ‘terubok’ fish (or American shad fish), a type of oily fish with lots of scales and Y-shaped bones. The fish can be either freshwater or seawater, local or imported, but local seawater ‘terubok’ fish costs more than other types.
  • Cerodet is a type of traditional Indian kuih which is very popular in Kuching.
  • Kuih Jala is a type of traditional Iban kuih which is quite similar to kuih karas in Kedah.
  • Suman is a traditional food of Malay in Pusa. It is a sea fish cooked in a banana husk and wrapped in banana leaves. It is almost the same with tebes and ti’ong in Bintulu.

Cross-cultural influence

Being a multicultural country, Malaysians have over the years adapted each other’s dishes to suit the taste buds of their own culture. For instance, Malaysians of Chinese descent have adapted the Indian curry, and made it more dilute and less spicy to suit their taste.

Chinese noodles have been crossed with Indian and Malay tastes and thus Malay fried noodles and Indian fried noodles were born.

Desserts

Cendol, a traditional Malaysian desert made fr...

Image via Wikipedia

A bowl of cendol.

Desserts in Malaysia tend to make use of generous amounts of coconut milk. Some common desserts include:

  • Cendol. Smooth green rice noodles in chilled coconut milk and gula melaka (coconut palm sugar).
  • Ais kacang (also known as air batu campur or just ABC. “‘air batu’ is ice in Malay”) Sweet corn, red beans and cincau (grass jelly) topped with shaved ice, colourful syrups and condensed milk.
  • Pulut hitam. Black glutinous rice porridge cooked with sago and served hot with coconut milk.
  • Bubur cha cha. Yam and sweet potato cubes served in coconut milk and sago, served hot or cold.
  • Honeydew sago. Honeydew melon cubes served in chilled coconut milk and sago.
  • Pengat (Tapioca and Banana) a thick brown sugar mixed together with coconut milk, the fruits mentioned and boiled.
  • Sago Gula Melaka (Sago, Coconut Cream and Palm Sugar) Cooked translucent sago with coconut cream topped with palm sugar syrup.
  • Pineapple tarts

A huge variety of tropical fruits are commonly served as desserts in Malaysia. The most famous is possibly the durian. Other popular fruits local to Malaysia include mango, pineapple, watermelon, jackfruit, papaya, langsat, rambutan, star fruit, banana and mangosteen.

Some of the foods are similar to the food of its neighbouring countries. Due to its diversity in cultures, there is a wide variety of different foods available.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cuisine of Malaysia

TSNRA Blog has many a number of pages for Malaysian Cuisine. Each race has its own traditional dishes which reflect its culture and traditions. Do visit these links below for the best places to enjoy our sumptuous cuisine in Penang :


September 26, 2011

(8) Traditional Malaysian Architecture

Filed under: from the editor — mollyosc @ 6:28 am

Malaysia is a multi-racial multi-cultural country that has always been exposed to both Eastern and Western influences. Its architectural heritage is thus a showcase of its tapestry of cultures, from the traditional kampung attap houses on stilts to the ornate, magnificent heritage buildings. Each race has its own unique architectural styles, and when blended into its rich colonial past, traditional Malaysian buildings are truly a mosaic of of architectural wonders.  

Malay
Traditional Malay architecture employs sophisticated architectural processes ideally suited to tropical conditions such as structures built on stilts, which allow cross-ventilating breeze beneath the dwelling to cool the house whilst mitigating the effects of the occasional flood. High-pitched roofs and large windows not only allow cross-ventilation but are also carved with intricate organic designs.

Traditional houses in Negeri Sembilan were built of hardwood and entirely free of nails. They are built using beams, which are held together by wedges. A beautiful example of this type of architecture can be seen in the Old Palace of Seri Menanti in Negeri Sembilan, which was built around 1905.

Istana Sri Menanti

Another truly magnificent example of Malay architectural creativity is the Istana Kenangan in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar. Built in 1926, it is the only Malay palace made of bamboo walls.

Istana Kenangan

Today, many Malay or Islamic buildings incorporate Moorish design elements as can be seen in the Islamic Arts Museum and a number of buildings in Putrajaya – the new administrative capital, and many mosques throughout the country.

Chinese
In Malaysia, Chinese architecture is of two broad types: traditional and Baba-Nyonya. Examples of traditional architecture include Chinese temples found throughout the country such as the Cheng Hoon Teng that dates back to 1646.

Many old houses especially those in Melaka and Penang are of Baba-Nyonya heritage, built with indoor courtyards and beautiful, colourful tiles.

Cheong Fatt Tze mansion

A rare architectural combination of Chinese and Western elements is displayed by Melaka’s Tranquera mosque. Its pagoda-like appearance is a fine example of Chinese-influenced roof form, combined with Western detailing in its balustrades and railings.

Indian
With most of Malaysian Hindus originally from Southern India, local Hindu temples exhibit the colourful architecture of that region.

Built in the late nineteenth century, the Sri Mahamariaman Temple in Kuala Lumpur is one of the most ornate and elaborate Hindu temples in the country. The detailed decorative scheme for the temple incorporates intricate carvings, gold embellishments, hand-painted motifs and exquisite tiles from Italy and Spain.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple

 The Sikhs, although a small minority, also have their temples of more staid design in many parts of the country.

Indigenous Peoples of Sabah & Sarawak
Two unique architectural highlights of the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak are longhouses and water villages.

Homes to interior riverine tribes, longhouses are traditional community homes. These elongated and stilted structures, often built of axe-hewn timber, tied with creeper fibre and roofed with woven atap or thatched leaves, can house between 20 to 100 families.

Rustic water villages built on stilts are also commonly found along riverbanks and seafronts. Houses are linked by plank walkways with boats anchored on the sides. Transport around the village is usually by sampan or canoe.

Traditional longhouse in East Malaysia
Water village in Kg. Ayer

COLONIAL PERIOD STYLES

The architectural styles of the different colonial powers are used in many buildings built between 1511 and 1957.

Portuguese
The most notable example of Portuguese architecture in Malaysia is the A’Famosa fort in Melaka, which was built by Alfonso d’Albuquerque in 1511. Nearly annihilated by the Dutch, only a small part of the fortification is still on the hill overlooking the Melaka town, old port and the Straits of Melaka.

A Famosa

Dutch
Located in Melaka Town, the Stadthuys with its heavy wooden doors, thick red walls and wrought-iron hinges is the most imposing relic of the Dutch period in Melaka. It is a fine example of Dutch masonry and woodworking skills. Built between 1641 and 1660 it is believed to be the oldest building in the East.

Stadthuys

British
Among the most significant landmarks built by the British is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which grandly overlooks the Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur. This Moorish beauty, completed in 1897, served as the Colonial Secretariat offices during the British administration.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Pre-Merdeka or pre-independence shophouses still emanate the characteristic charm of their earlier days. A display of English ingenuity is the ‘five-foot-way’ or covered sidewalk designed to shield pedestrians from the heat and rain.

Colourful pre-war heritage building in Penang

Above article from : http://www.tourism.gov.my/about_malaysia/?view=culture

 

September 16, 2011

(4) Cultural Dances & Traditional Musical Instruments of Malaysia

Filed under: from the editor — mollyosc @ 3:10 am

Dance is a popular cultural form in Malaysia too. Each ethnic group has its own dance forms which characterizes its culture. Malaysian dances can be identified with certain regions or religious practices which are often performed in festive celebrations, wedding parties, cultural shows, religious ceremonies or other public events.  Below are the dances of the 3 major racial groups in our country :


MALAY DANCES

Tarian Melayu or Malay dance portrays the customs or adat resam and culture or budaya of the Malays. It depicts the true nature of the Malay people and their way of life.

Generally, Malay dances are divided into two main categories which are the “original” Malay dances and “adopted” Malay dances. The “original” Malay dances are indigenous to the Malay region, encompassing Sumatra, the Malay Peninsular, Singapore, the Riau Archipelago and Borneo, and its origins can be traced back to the early Malay civilizations. The “adopted” Malay dances are influenced by foreign cultures due to political and historical events. The various forms or styles of Malay dance are further categorized by its beats (rentak) and rhythm (irama).

The four basic genres of Malay dance are Asli, Inang, Joget and Zapin. Asli and Inang dances are categorised as the “original” Malay dances whereas Joget and Zapin are categorized as “adopted” Malay dances. The diagram below further illustrates:

Asli

The term Asli, meaning “original”, is the forerunner of the four basic genres of Malay dance. The dance movements and its songs can be traced back to the early Malay Kingdoms in the 14th century. Its beat and rhythm is slow-paced yet intricate and well defined. Its dance style is graceful and elegant as it depicts the charming nature of Malay ladies. There are numerous hand movements and poses, each with a different significance. Every movement of the Asli dance starts and ends with the gong beat in the count of eights.

Asli songs are still popular across the regions of Malay culture in Sumatra, the Malay Peninsular, Singapore, the Riau Archipelago and Borneo. In Sumatra, they are known as senandung and are derived from local soulful poetic verses projecting deep emotions such as love or sorrow. Examples of Asli songs include Sembawa Balik, Pasir Roboh, Timang Banjar and Sri Siantan.

Before the introduction of Western musical instruments, indigenous musical instruments such as the rebab (a string instrument), gong, rebana or gendang bebano (a framed hand drum) are used. Foreign influence, particularly from the West, in the mid-16th century led to the introduction of Western musical instruments such as the violin and accordion. With further changes over time and the advancement of technology, various traditional musical instruments have been replaced by electronic and modern ones. Modes of performing Asli songs have also developed tremendously.

Inang

Another form of the “original” Malay dance is the Inang. Historical accounts state that the word Inang is derived from the word “Mak Inang”, a nanny or chief lady-in-waiting who is responsible in looking after the royal children. The Inang song and dance is said to have been composed during the era of the Malaccan Sultanate, particularly during the rule of Sultan Mahmud Shah (1488-1511). At the time, the Inang dance was performed in various palace celebrations such as weddings.

The Inang beats and dance movements are faster paced compared to the Asli dance. It portrays the grace and swaying movement of royal maids and has all the qualities of a palace performance. In olden times, the Inang dance was performed only by ladies, with very modest movements adhering to the strict palace customs and protocols. Eventually, the Inang dance evolved from strictly a court dance into a folk dance enjoyed and performed by all individuals. Nevertheless, its graceful and modest movements have always remained. Nowadays, it is performed at all social functions and usually by couples of men and women. Examples of songs with the Inang beat are Seri Langkat, Lenggang Mak Limah and Mak Inang Pulau Kampai.

Joget

The Joget dance (also called the Ronggeng) was introduced to the Malays in Malacca during the early 16th century. Its origins may be traced back to two popular Portuguese folk dances, the Branjo and Farapeirra. Throughout Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and the Riau Archipelago, the Joget has been known as a fast-paced popular dance and is performed at cultural festivals, wedding celebrations and many other social functions. Its catchy beat and cheerful combination of fast hand and leg movements appeal to both young and old alike.

In some regions of the Malay Archipelago, the Joget is also known as the Rentak Lagu Dua which describes the interaction between couples in portraying a song with liveliness and cheerfulness. In Indonesia, particularly in the Northern Sumatra region such as Medan, Deli and Serdang, the Joget has been elevated in rank to be one of Indonesia’s national dances when in 1934, a well-known choreographer by the name of Sayuti choreographed a unique form of the Joget dance called Serampang 12. It has 12 stages of dance steps depicting the love story of a couple from courtship till their wedding.

Joget music and dance has an obviously hybrid character. The accordion, violin and tambur (a double-headed drum and Portuguese in origin; its name is derived from the Portuguese tambour) are European whereas the framed drums may be Middle Eastern or indigenous to the region and the harmonium is Indian. Other elements such as the gong, the use of pantun (this refers to Malay poetry or can mean quatrain) and the basic performance context are all indigenous. Examples of Joget music include Joget Asam Kana, Joget Istana Lukut and Joget Songkok Mereng.

Usually at the end of a Joget performance, the drumming speeds up to a rapid dance section, in which two dancers face each other and, standing on their right legs, extend their left legs forward until their feet touch; then they switch legs. Two names are given for this dance move: Perancis bol and seken kaki. However, neither of these phrases makes much sense in Malay, but they could be adapted from foreign words. The first seems to combine Perancis, the Malay word for “France” or “French”, with the English “ball” or French bal; the second joins the Malay word kaki for “foot” with what could be English for “shaking”.

Zapin

The influence of the Zapin dance on Malay culture and arts started alongside the spread of the Islamic religion, beginning in the early 15th Century. The Zapin dance and music were brought and introduced by the Arab traders and missionaries from Southern Yemen particularly from the Hadramaut region. From its original form of Arabic Zapin (Zapin Arab), the dance assimilated itself into the Malay culture and thus gave birth to a localised version known as Zapin Melayu. Originally, Zapin performances were popular among the royalty. It is believed that every palace had its own Zapin troupe which performed at various palace functions and every rehearsal was done under the watchful eye of the Sultan.

The music for Zapin comes from an ensemble of traditional instruments, which includes the lute gambus), gypsy type bongos (marwas), small single-frame hand drums (rafa’i), accordion and violin. A typical Zapin performance and song can be categorised into three parts. The first part is called the taqsim or introduction. This is where the gambus is played in a solo manner as an opening of the performance. Simultaneously, the dancers enter the stage and perform the sembah or act of respect to the audience. As the performance progress, the dancers perform various steps and legwork movements. The second part is at the end of every quatrain or pantun, where the music and beating of the drums is played in a rapid beat manner known as tingkah or kopak while the dancers move in a jumping manner called the minta tahto. The third part is the end of the performance, which is known as the tahtim, whereby the dancers will perform the wainab movements to close the performance.

There are numerous types of Zapin and they are categorised by regions. Some examples are Zapin Tenglu, Zapin Pekajang, Zapin Parit Mastar from Johor, Zapin Sindang from Sarawak, Zapin Ghalit from Kedah, Jipin Tar and Jipin Laila Sembah from Brunei and Zapin Kampung Manggis from Jambi.

Contributed by Mohd Hisham Salim, Executive Officer, Majlis Pusat

(Top right picture courtesy of NAC Community Arts Series July 2006. Other pictures courtesy of Majlis Pusat)

CHINESE DANCES

The term “Chinese dance”, which tends to be broadly used to refer to dance forms that have traditional Chinese origins, actually encompasses two main forms, Chinese classical dance and Chinese ethnic dance.

Chinese Classical Dance

The origins of Chinese classical dance date back to the Zhou dynasty. During this period, only members of the royal family and nobility had the privilege of being trained in dance. Depending on the student’s age, he/she would be taught different dances for various occasions and purposes. Every dance had its own set of performance standards and training was often rigorous. These dances would often be performed at major ceremonies, diplomatic events and even during religious ceremonies.

Subsequently, the art of dance made considerable progress during the prosperous time of the Tang dynasty. While preserving traditions passed down from the previous dynasty, Tang dynasty dances also incorporated new elements and thus during this time, Chinese classical dance was considered to be at its peak. However, with the rise and fall of the Tang dynasty, the art of dance went the same way – from an art form for the privileged to something more accessible to common folk. In fact, during the Song and Ming dynasties, folk opera, a phenomenon combining dance, acrobatics and theatrical performances arose, replacing pure dance as a flourishing art form. This in turn metamorphosed into what we commonly know today as traditional opera. Despite the apparent transformation, dance was still ultimately the key means of performance, thus giving rise to the saying that “Chinese classical dance evolved from traditional oper”.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, proper dance education and research began with the establishment of the Beijing Dance Academy in 1954, allowing dance training to be standardized. While continually discovering and preserving the particular charm and appeal of Chinese classical dance movements, it was also constantly improving upon its techniques in order to standardize the form. Improvements in the following areas were just a few ways in which to achieve that: foundation techniques of Chinese classical dance (barre work training, centre work training, jumps, turns, somersaults and combined technique training), Chinese classical dance posture and rhythm training, tanzigong training (fighting and acrobatics/martial arts), sword-dance training, long-sleeve dance training, etc. In fact, recently, “Han Tang” classical dance training has also started to gain popularity.

Chinese Ethnic Dance

Chinese ethnic dance is a product of the historical progress of each ethnic community as well as their individual artistic creativity. The dances reflect the various regional specialties, cultural characteristics and religious beliefs of each ethnic group at different stages in history, infusing every dance with unique local flavour, thus making it widely popular with the masses. Many of the terms used in these dances are drawn from everyday life and even the props used are also day-to-day items and instruments. Ethnic dance performances are a staple at celebrations, religious ceremonies and major events, making them an integral part of every community’s identity.

China has 56 major ethnic groups, the largest being the Han people, who make up more than 90% of the population. Primarily occupying the Yellow River, Yangtze River and Pearl River Delta region as well as the Song Liao Plains, the vast expanse of land and the breathtaking natural landscape have contributed to the Han people’s ethnic dances. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the myriad dances of the Han people vary distinctly by regions.

For instance, a popular rural folk dance in northern China known as Yang Ge is a common dance, but styles differ depending on where it originated. Yang Ge performed in northern Shaanxi is different from those performed in Hebei, Shandong or even northeastern China. In addition, the flower lantern dance and flower drum dance, performed predominantly in southern China, are also not homogeneous in style. From a regional perspective, northern China’s Yang Ge and other ethnic dances are relatively strong, simple and unsophisticated, a style reminiscent of that predominant in the states of Yan and Zhao during the Warring States Period. The flower lantern dance and flower drum dance of the south, on the other hand, are notable for being elegant and graceful, a characteristic of the ancient Chu culture. The Huai River region’s geographical location (between the Yellow River and the mighty Yangtze) has also played a part in shaping dance in the region. The flower lantern dance of the area has incorporated the positive elements of dances in both northern and southern China. Hence, the dance tempers toughness with grace – male dancers are dynamic while female dancers are charming.

Even though the remaining 55 ethnic minority groups in China make up only a small percentage of the general population, they inhabit nearly 50%-60% of the country, scattered in regions across China such as northeast China, Inner Mongolia, northwest China, southwest China, central and southeast China. Some of these ethnic minorities live in the grasslands, on plateaus, in mountainous regions or even in border areas; hence, such latitudinal and scenic differences are clearly reflected in their dance.

For instance, the nomadic lifestyles of the Mongols and the Kazakhs in the grasslands of northern China have influenced their dances. The dances of these people often portray their daily nomadic activities, with strong, dynamic movements and upbeat rhythms. Similarly, the Zhuang and Li people, who can be found in southern China, have dances which reflect their agricultural roots. Tea-picking and rice-harvesting dances are common, and such dances are often graceful with slower tempos. The Dai people and ethnic Koreans (whose ancestors migrated from the Korean peninsular), who are also engaged in agricultural activities, share the graceful characteristics of their Zhuang and Li counterparts. However, their dances are unique to their people because of their environment and their personalities. While the dance of the Dai people is vivacious, the dance of ethnic Koreans is considered more graceful and elegant. As for ethnic minorities who live near China’s border, their dances are a veritable melting pot of different cultural influences. For instance, the Uighurs and the Uzbeks, who inhabit the ancient Silk Road region of northwest China, are skilled in using their heads, necks, shoulders, backs and waists in performances. Their facial expressions are also vivid and inimitable, endowing their dance with a flavour reminiscent of the style predominant in the ancient Western regions.

To conclude, even though Chinese dance may possess its own characteristics and history, it is no different from any other dance in the world in that it is essentially a cultural phenomenon. It is ultimately an art form through which artistes express themselves. Its creation is directly influenced by both nature and society; its form can be expressed through the human form or even emotionally. In addition, the artiste’s cultural and artistic upbringing also plays a significant role in determining the tone of the dance.

Contributed by Wei Wei and translated by Koh Chern Ping 

References:

Zhong Guo Min Jian Wu Dao Wen Hua Jiao Chen (Chinese Ethnic Dance Curriculum)

Wu Dao Jiao Yu Xue (Dance Education and Teaching Methodology)

Zhong Guo Wu Jin Xuan Jiao Cai (Selected Chinese Dance Syllabus)

INDIAN DANCES

Early History of Classical Indian Dance

The dancing girl from Mohenjodaro, the broken torso suggesting a dance pose from the Harappan civilization, the metaphors and similies based on dance that exist in the Vedas, the reference to dance in the ancient Indian epics. There is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest that Indian classical dance existed and in fact influenced sculptural and literary traditions from about 2nd century BC to 19th century AD. The Natyasastra, the famous treatise of dance and drama, could only have been written in an environment in which these art forms were in existence and thriving. The history of Indian dance begins with this detailed text.

The history can be broadly divided into two periods: the first between 2nd century BC to 9th century AD, and the second from 10th century AD to 18th century AD. During British rule dance want into a coma. In the first period, Sanskrit played an important role, and there was a strong link between dance, music, sculpture, literature and drama. Dance was so enmeshed in other art forms that there was no separate text on dance, until the Abhinaya Darpana was written. From the 13th century onwards there were manuals on dance emerging in various regions of the country. What emerged from these manuals is interesting – they all subscribed to the basic principles of the Natyasastra, but yet, distinctive regional styles emerged with ultimately differing native vocabulary. This period (1300AD-1800AD) marked the beginning of the classical Indian dance styles that we know today, namely Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Manipuri, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Kathak. Forms such as Chhau, Koodiyattam and Yakshagana could in due course enter the classical classification.

Impact of British Rule
When the British entered India, classical dance was an important part of temple worship and dancers known as Devadasis were employed in temples to perform ritual dances during important festivals. Gradually this system deteriorated into dance being performed for the pleasure of priests and kings. Devadasis carried the stigma of prostitution. Labeling it as prostitution, the British abolished this system without offering an alternative source of livelihood to the dancers. Hence in British India the practice and development of danced was curbed. The generation that attended schools founded by the British was isolated from the art traditions of the country as the colonial system of education did not recognize art as a subject for the curriculum. By the 20th century, the art of dance had died, and what was left was called “nautch” in North India and “sadir” in the South.

Recovery and Export
In the 1930s, dance was brought back into Indian society through the efforts of individuals such as Muthulakshmi Reddy, E.Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale. A couple of decades later, dance began to travel from India to other parts of the world. Artists such as Uday Shankar and Ram Gopal were instrumental in taking the dance forms out into the world. Gradually, practitioners around the world began to allow influences of their locales into their dance forms, and so today while many practitioners preserve the dance form in the way that it has been handed down to them, making minor modifications, there are others who are allowing radical changes to happen in their forms. A new era has been ushered in with the export of the dance forms, especially Bharatanatyam and Kathak, to various parts of the world.

Classical Indian Dance Styles
In the Indian context, both dance and drama were fused into one at a very early stage of development. By the time the Natyasastra was written, both art forms were consciously conceived as one. And so the techniques governing the technique of Indian dance are the same as those that govern the technique of classical drama in India.

Classical Indian dance is divided into three distinct categories, namely natya (corresponds to drama), nritya (gesticulation when it is performed to words sung in a musical melody) and nritta (pure dancing where the movements do not express any mood or meaning). In Indian dance, the human body has been conceived of as a mass which can be divided equally along a central median. When the weight is equally divided, the completely balanced samabhanga position emerges. In poses where there is only one deflection, the abhanga position emerges. When there are more than two deflections on opposite sides of the central median, the tribhanga position emerges.

While most of the styles are rooted in the basic principles, there are certain characteristic features that distinguish one form from the other.

Click below to read more about each dance style

Contributed by Nirmala Seshadri 03 January 2007

References:

T.S. Parthasarathy (1991), “Dances of India”, Journal of the Music Academy, Madras

T.S. Parthasarathy (1992), “Dances of India: Bharatanatyam”, Journal of the Music Academy, Madras

Kapila Vatsyayan (1974), “Indian Classical Dance”, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India

( All articles above from http://www.dansing.org.sg/?page_id=74 )

View the colourful muliti-ethnic Malaysian cultural dances in the 2 videos links below :

MALAYSIAN DANCES – PRESS TV

<a title=”Malaysian Dances” href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/xPzkH9QQ6XM” target=”_blank”><iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/xPzkH9QQ6XM&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

MALAYSIAN CULTURAL SHOW – Malaysian Tourism Centre

<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/um670j_UywA” target=”_blank”>

Traditional Musical Instruments 

Rebana Ubi

In the days of the ancient Malay kingdoms, the resounding rhythmic beats of the giant rebana ubi drums conveyed various messages from warnings of danger to wedding announcements. Later, they were used as musical instruments in an assortment of social performances.

Kompang

Arguably the most popular Malay traditional instrument, the kompang is widely used in a variety of social occasions such as the National Day parades, official functions and weddings. Similar to the tambourine but without the jingling metal discs, this hand drum is most commonly played in large ensembles, where various rhythmic composite patterns are produced by overlapping multiple layers of different rhythms.

Gambus
Brought to Malaysia by Persian and Middle Eastern traders, the gambus or Arabian oud is played in a variety of styles in Malay folk music, primarily as the lead instrument in Ghazal music. Carefully crafted with combinations of different woods, this instrument produces a gentle tone that is similar to that of the harpsichord.

Sape

The sape is the traditional flute of the Orang Ulu community or upriver people of Sarawak. A woodcarving masterpiece with colourful motifs, the sape is made by hollowing a length of wood. Once played solely during healing ceremonies within longhouses, it gradually became a social instrument of entertainment. Typically, its thematic music is used to accompany dances such as the Ngajat and Datun Julud.

( above article from http://www.tourism.gov.my/about_malaysia/?view=culture )

Here’s a Youtube video on traditional Malaysian musical instruments :

<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/dpIgna4ts3w” target=”_blank”><iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/dpIgna4ts3w&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

July 6, 2009

WWF Malaysia

Filed under: — mollyosc @ 2:35 pm

ww

http://www.wwf.org.my/index.cfm


WWF-Malaysia is a national conservation trust that currently runs more than 75 projects covering a diverse range of environmental protection and nature conservation work in Malaysia.

Since 1972, WWF-Malaysia has worked on important conservation projects, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. WWF-Malaysia is able to leverage upon conservation expertise worldwide as part of WWF, the global conservation organisation.


Who We Are

Established as a national conservation trust on 13 January 1972, WWF-Malaysia began as a humble two person-organisation. Today, we have more than 100 people working for us – from Langkawi to Sabah. Also known as Tabung Alam Malaysia, we are governed by a Board of Trustees. Learn more about us, our history and people.


What We Do

WWF-Malaysia’s early work focused on scientific research of wildlife and important natural habitats. This later expanded to the management of protected areas. Today, our work covers the broader issues of the natural environment, incorporating such aspects as policy work, environmental education, public awareness and campaigns.

Issues we work on:
Species
Forests
Freshwater
Marine
Environmental education
Policy


Where We Work

WWF-Malaysia’s headquarters is based in Petaling Jaya, Selangor in Peninsular Malaysia. We also have programme offices in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Kuching, Sarawak. However, there are also members of staff working on various projects that are based in other parts of the country. To find out where we work, view a full list of our project site offices or learn more about our global network.


How You Can Help Us

Learn more about our conservation work, join us in Careers in Conservation or visit our How You Can Help section to see how you too can contribute in protecting & conserving nature for a living planet for future generations.

June 29, 2009

1 MALAYSIA

Filed under: from the editor — mollyosc @ 4:07 pm
from Lim Kit Siang <limkitsiang@gmail.com>
sender-time Sent at 12:23 PM (GMT+08:00). Current time there: 9:17 PM.
to Molly Ooi <mollyosc@gmail.com>
date Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 12:23 PM
subject Re: I Malaysia
mailed-by gmail.com

Thanks Molly for the thoughtful piece. Let’s hope and do what we can to ensure  that 1Malaysia does not end up as empty rhetoric but be the basis for a truly united, just and harmonious Malaysia.

Rgds

kit

Sep 22 (6 days ago)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

rom web_server.smpke.jpm.my/PPMWEB%PPMWEB@smpke.jpm.my
sender-time Sent at 9:48 AM (GMT+08:00). Current time there: 11:51 PM. 
to mollyosc@gmail.com
date Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 9:48 AM
subject e-Maklumbalas Kepada PM – I Malaysia/Unity : Ref. No. ( 003BB63F)
Jul 22 (2 days ago)

Puan,

Emel puan kepada YAB Perdana Menteri  telah selamat diterima.

YAB Perdana Menteri merakamkan ucapan terima kasih dan penghargaan atas
sokongan dan kepercayaan terhadap kepimpinan beliau.

Sekian, terima kasih.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


zainalrahim@penang.gov.my

to me

8:02 AM (4 hours ago)

Hai Molly.,

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

Zainal

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our PM has just launched his ‘1 Malaysia logo’ with singing and dancing in an air of festivity. Elsewhere, other parties follow suit. While we didn’t sing and dance here in TSNRA, we all come under this logo. Our Taman is after all a mini ‘1 Malaysia’ with its potpourri of races in our Taman melting pot. Always bearing in mind that we are apolitical, we must support and work closely with our government of the day.

Let me share with you my views on unity. I totally support our PM in his concept of 1 Malaysia. I want our future generation to grow up in a blessed land where they do not see the colours of the skin but the beauty of the hearts.

I grew up in such a generation a long time ago. One of my good friends was a Malay girl called Mariam who used to come over to my house for sleepovers. I still remember her looks – quite fair with adolescent pimples and bespectacled with a short bob.  We would play badminton over the fence or just read and chat. In Assunta Convent, we made skipping ropes with colourful rubber bands, kicked fragrant frangipanis tied with a rubber band and played ‘five stones’ with chilli-red angsana seeds sewn into tiny bags. During recess, we girls of all races played happily – race was never an issue. Our Mother Superior made sure of that, constantly reminding us that God loves all His little children – red or yellow, black or white, they are precious in His sight, and we should do likewise.

It was in the midst of our Form Six years that we had to suffer the bleakest period in Malaysian history – May the 13th. Mariam and I remained close friends and we didn’t understand why all these terrible atrocities were happening around us. I do not wish to dwell on this dark chapter in my life. But I do want to share with you the close bond that all our Chinese, Malay and Indian school friends shared for many years to come after this. My father and Mariam’s father also remained good friends until the day her father passed away.

Today, unity remains a serious issue. I do not wish to hop onto the ‘who-blames-who-merry-go-round’. Every time I read the pages of our dailies or watch the news on TV, some leaders are blaming others for some mess somewhere. Issues never get solved this way. Our government has many campaigns and programs planned to instill the concept of 1 Malaysia. But will all these bear good fruits? Deep within my spirit there’s a grave concern for my country and all her future generations.

Today’s young people are an IT-savvy lot. They are often in front of their PCs or I-phones and they absorb a lot of info, good or bad. Their parents may or may not have a lot of influence on them, but their friends certainly do. All these negative squabbles among our leaders further negate their opinions of their country. They blog about it and network with their friends. Information over the www can spread like a virulent virus.

1 Malaysia has now been launched. How many of our young people will heed this call to unite as one?  They are aware of what has been going on – at this age, all their senses are sharpened to the peak. Their impressionable minds are like sponges, absorbing what they read online. Their passions run high and their emotions are also volatile, prone to outbursts as they speak out loudly and act boldly.

What about their parents? They have the watched the ups and downs of our country. Some pass down their anger and bitterness to their children while others only care about themselves and their families. The rest may awaken to this call but can anyone estimate this number?

Too much has been said and done. Careless words, cuttings words, coarse words, cruel words that stab through a human heart without drawing blood – read the verses below :

  1. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
  2. “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. The  truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:18)
  3. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)
  4. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
  5. “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)
  6. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge  rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:1)
  7. “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Such dissenting, destructive words have rooted deep into the spirit of many Malaysians. We are a nation in need of healing and forgiveness. We  know about forgiving others, but we also have to forgive a nation. The Oxford Dictionary defines nation as “ a large community of people, usually sharing a common history, language etc and living under one government ”.

In the light of all these, let me share with you excerpts of a thought provoking article entitled  “ Choices – Living Consciously : Are We Ready to Forgive?” by Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Cape Town and the recipient of many honors and degrees, including the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

“Is forgiveness possible at a national level? And if so, how can political leaders support that process?

A nation is made up of individual persons but it also has an ethos, a culture, a tradition, a corporate memory and identity, distinct from those individuals. A nation can do good, can triumph, can fail. A nation can be held accountable for a holocaust, and so a nation must remember national achievements of which it is proud. It must recall the things that make it hang its head in shame and perhaps be a little less arrogant as it recalls its own anguish.

Leaders can influence the mood of their people; they can make them vengeful or conciliatory; they can pander to their baser instincts or they can hold out a vision of the sublime, of the noble, of the idealistic.

We are exhorted to forgive one another. And we can do this only through God’s grace. It is ultimately God at work in us to make us to be like God. Yes, it is a tall order, but that is the love that changes the world, that believes an enemy is a friend waiting to be made.

God does not give up on anyone, for God looks on each of us as a masterpiece in the making. But God took an incredible risk in creating us not to be automatons but to be decision-making creatures with the freedom to choose to obey or not to obey God, to love or not to love God and others.

That is why we admire not the macho, the aggressively successful. No, we revere a small, frail woman, Mother Theresa because she was good. The world admires an old man, Nelson Mandela, because he is magnanimous, he is forgiving, he is good. We have an instinct for goodness, our hearts thrill in the presence of goodness for God has made us for himself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.

Dear friends, please remember that ultimately there is no future without forgiveness.”

Our nation needs healing. There are wounded hearts and rejected spirits throughout our history. We have to forgive others, especially some of our leaders, for our past hurts and release them to God. When unforgiveness takes root, it will destroy lives and a nation. We can try to mask this by decorating our ‘ tree of unity’ with beautiful flowers among its branches as we dance and sing around it. However, the rot slowly creeps up from the roots and weakens the tree. One fine day, we may wake up to find it has uprooted and fallen to the ground. When we forgive, we are healed and we are set free. Then and only then can we move on to make Malaysia a truly great nation.

Editor

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